The Lone Ranger review

Gore Verbinski
Johnny Depp
Armie Hammer
William Fichtner
Tom Wilkinson
Ruth Wilson
Helena Bonham Carter
Rated: PG-13

I could have earned the title of the Lone Watch Checker seeing this movie.

‘The Lone Ranger,” based on the character from the TV show that started in 1946, follows the character John Reid (Hammer). Reid is a prosecutor traveling to the wild west and eventually meets up with his older brother who is a Texas Ranger. Reid’s brother, Dan, is after a criminal named Butch (Fichtner). John joins a posse with Dan and go to get the criminal, however they are ambushed and all killed.

However, John ends up coming back from the dead and becomes a spirit walker. He meets with an Indian named Tonto (Depp), and the two of them have a common enemy in Butch. They decide to team up and bring the villain to justice. To do so, John puts on a mask and becomes the Lone Ranger.

Some movies need a bit of trimming for improvement, cut a little bit here and a little over there type of thing. “The Lone Ranger,” though, needs slicing with an axe.

Pushing two and a half hours, this movie is way too long and does not have enough substance in between to hold things up.

First of all. The film is told through Tonto narrating the story to some kid in a museum. This does nothing but add some lame humor and was completely unnecessary. That whole section could have been taken out.

Another piece of the movie that could have been cut from the movie was a subplot dealing with the love interest, Rebecca (Wilson), and her son. The characters are just uninteresting and I couldn’t find myself caring about them at all through the entire film.

The worse handled part of the film’s story and overall plot is without a doubt, though, the Lone Ranger himself. The movie tries to be an origin story, which isn’t a bad thing, however, they don’t have the character John become the Lone Ranger until nearly an hour into the film! What in the world were they waiting for?

Even after John puts the mask on though, he still really isn’t the Lone Ranger. The film seems to just drag along showing the Lone Ranger bumbling around and Tonto being silly for the next hour. It’s not until the very last 20 minutes, or so, that John actually becomes the Lone Ranger. At that point the character actually becomes interesting and cool to watch and the movie becomes engaging, and it begs the question, why wasn’t the whole damn film like this?

To be fair to Armie Hammer, he isn’t necessarily bad here, it’s more that the script doesn’t let him become a great hero until the very end. For nearly all of the movie, Hammer just stumbles around, he just doesn’t get the chance to really own the movie, which he should since he is playing the title character.

The film tends to lean towards Tonto, played by Johnny Depp. Despite actually having some good moments, they are few and far in between. For about 95 percent of the flick, Depp just brings the persona that he has brought to all his films lately, like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and “Dark Shadows.” It’s starting to get old and it takes one out of the film, especially when he’s just doing silly things on the screen.

On the other side of the spectrum, the villains are OK. Tom Wilkinson plays one of them and is really dull and uninspired. However, William Fichtner does bring a very good performance, playing a classic western villain.

Besides being way too long and having some unnecessary plot threads, the film also can’t seem to find the right tone. The movie tries to balance having serious moments and silly moments and fails miserably. The film probably would have worked better by bringing down the humor and making it more serious. Not serious in a sort of Nolan way, but a western serious, like in “Tombstone.” A seriousness where you can become invested and engaged, and still have a fun adventure.

Speaking of “Tombstone,” the movie never really has any western action sequences. There’s a good climax near the end involving a train, where things actually get good. But how about some shootouts? How about some showdowns? Despite the attempt by Director Gore Verbinski to create a realistic looking wild west, which is actually a successful attempt, it just doesn’t pay off.

“The Lone Ranger” is just a bloated mess. It’s too long, there’s unnecessary story elements, some of the acting seems only average at best and the film can’t seem to find its own identity. The worst part, though, is that the audience doesn’t get to see a great lead hero to follow until the end of the movie. Some nice visuals and action moments plus a fairly good climax helps the movie to avoid a “1” rating. This one barely scrapes by at a low 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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